Vaccinators in Mchinji reach an estimated 15,000 chickens in their first campaign

Training of community vaccinators (or community-based poultry workers as they are officially known in Malawi) was a top priority for the last half of 2020 for our partner, the Rural Poultry Centre (RPC). After consultation with government and other stakeholders, RPC prepared a protocol for training in accordance with COVID-19 safe guidelines. The training involved initial briefing sessions to sensitise government stakeholders, local community leaders and potential trainees, as well as preparation of suitable training materials. In view of the constraints imposed by the COVID pandemic, the actual training took place over 11 separate three-day sessions at five different locations in Mchinji District, over a period of six weeks beginning in September, with 77 vaccinators trained. 25 village leaders and 11 government animal health surveillance assistants were also included in the program to support the vaccinators. The first vaccination campaign was undertaken in early December, with around 15,000 chickens vaccinated across an estimated 1,500 households.

A group of community vaccinators receiving their certificates after completing training in Mchinji. Photo credit: Pat Boland.

With 61% of the vaccinators being women, we hope the medium to long term impacts of this project will contribute to the improved production and health of village chickens and empowerment of rural women, leading to improved access to quality protein and income gains through increased sales of chickens at household level. Five Dzithandizeni Women’s Groups will be participating in the program, with the hope that female vaccinators and female household heads in turn will be encouraged to improve their flocks through the example these women set. Setting up a network of village leaders and government workers will mean the community vaccinators will be facilitated to continuehis important work well into the future.

Vaccinators dance at the end of their training. Filming credit: Pat Boland.

We acknowledge the support of the Australian Government Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) for this project.